The French schoolgirl who claimed her teacher told Muslim students to leave class before he showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed — a claim that led to the teacher’s death in a terror attack — now admits she lied about the incident.
Samuel Paty, the teacher, was beheaded back in October, after the girl’s father put out a call on social media, claiming Paty had insulted Muslims, and including the teacher’s personal information — actions that allegedly led to his murder.
“The 13-year-old girl, who has not been officially named, originally told her father that Paty had asked Muslim students to leave the classroom while he showed the cartoon during a class on free speech and blasphemy,” the BBC reported Monday. “According to evidence given by the girl seen by French media, she said: ‘I didn’t see the cartoons, it was a girl in my class who showed me them.'”
“The girl’s father filed a legal complaint against the teacher and began a social media campaign over the incident based on his daughter’s account. He identified Paty and the school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, west of Paris,” the outlet noted. “Prosecutors said shortly after the killing that there was a “direct causal link” between the online incitement against Paty and his murder.”
The girl now says that she lied because she was under pressure from Muslim classmates to serve as their spokesperson.
Paty, the French prosecutors say, did show the cartoons, as he had in “similar lessons on free speech in previous years,” but that he asked students to close their eyes, not leave the room. And the girl who complained was not even present in class; she had been suspended from school the day before.
“The girl had originally claimed the teacher had asked Muslim pupils to leave the room. When she objected she was suspended from school, she said. It now appears that the girl was suspended the day before the class was given, according to Le Parisien newspaper, because of repeated absence from school,” the BBC noted. “The girl explains in her leaked testimony that she made up the story so as not to disappoint her father. He posted two videos on social media in response to the allegations.”
“After the campaign became popular, Paty was murdered and beheaded by Abdullah Anzorov,” the Hill added. The incident was captured on video by Anzorov and uploaded to the internet.
The girl is now being charged with slander and her father is being charged with contributing to Paty’s death by sharing the girl’s story and Paty’s personal information, as well as his location. A radical Muslim preacher is also being charged.
“Paty’s family lawyer responded to the new information saying the family already knew the girl wasn’t in class that day so they would have known she was lying,” the Hill said.
These developments are coming at a time of heightened concern, again, in France. Two university professors “have been given police protection after they were accused of Islamophobia by student protesters,” according to the BBC in a separate report. “An investigation has begun after posters were put up last week at Sciences Po university in Grenoble that read ‘Fascists in our lecture halls, Islamophobia kills,’ naming the two professors.”